Montreal’s theatre scene comes alive every fall and the 2015 season is already off to a great start with the Teesri Duniya Theatre’s presentation of State of Denial at the Segal Centre. Playwright Rahul Varma (Bhopal, Unusual Battleground) and director Liz Valdez (Haunted House, The Nutmeg Princess) join forces to bring this powerful play to life right before our eyes. State of Denial is based on a research project of immigrant survival stories. It links events from the 1915 Armenian Genocide with the 1995 Genocide of Rwanda in a haunting yet touching story of survival, identity and how far one will go to seek the truth.
Filmmaker Odette, played by Warona Setshwaelo (Waiting Room, Truth and Treason), travels to Turkey to do research for her documentary on female survivors of violent genocides. During her travels she meets Sahana, played wonderfully by Victoria Barkoff (A Walk On The Moon, Horses In Winter). Sahana, a Muslim woman, owns a women’s center in Turkey and has dedicated her life to helping those who’ve survived traumatic events. A survivor of the Rwanda Genocide, Odette connects immediately with Sahana and a bond is formed between the two. The friendship is short-lived when Sahana passes away, but not before revealing a secret to Odette. Determined to share her new friend’s story, Sahana’s revelation gets Odette kicked out of Turkey, but that doesn’t stop her from continuing her quest when she returns to Canada. Despite being faced with her own troubles, Odette is determined to find Sahana’s long lost family in Canada.
State of Denial is set in Montreal and Turkey and is told in non-linear fashion. It goes back in forth between two different times and countries. Despite the small stage, this is done very well and you’re never left confused of what’s going on and where. Many scenes are very touching while others, quite heartbreaking. Overall the cast, comprised of: Michaela Di Cesare (Eating Pomegranites, The Rose Tattoo), Jimmy Blais (Office Pranks, Mohawk Girls), Saro Saroyan (Twelfth Night, Lion In The Streets), Liana Bdéwi (Les Monologues Au Vagin), Susan Bain (A Nanny’s Revenge, Source Code), and Eric Hausknost (Seven Stories, Largo Winch), worked very well together.
State of Denial is quite a powerful play that will leave you in awe. It affects you in an almost indescribable way. The play is so captivating that you fail to notice minor or any flaws at all. Whether you know about genocide or not, you’ll leave the theatre feeling like you really didn’t know anything at all. It is an educational play that shows the hardships of living through a war and how it can forever affect you. We not only learn about a tough time in history, but also about the kindness of strangers, the natural bond between women, and how connected we can be with someone we barely know and who doesn’t even live in the same country or era. What better way to mark the 100TH anniversary of the Armenian Genocide than with a play like State of Denial. Even if you’re used to seeing light hearted and more comedic plays, sometimes we need to see stories like State of Denial to learn and remind ourselves about tragic times and the affect it’s had on an entire culture. After watching the play, you’ll leave the theatre in a good state of mind and an even better appreciation of life.
There’s still time to check out this powerful play! Get your tickets at the Segal Centre box office and see this powerful story with your very own eyes.
Photos courtesy of: Matteo Casis